Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New oil spill dispersant made from ingredients in peanut butter, chocolate, ice cream

Date:
August 20, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
With concerns about the possible health and environmental effects of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon disaster still fresh in mind, scientists have developed a new dispersant made from edible ingredients that both breaks up oil slicks and keeps oil from sticking to the feathers of birds.

With concerns about the possible health and environmental effects of oil dispersants in the Deepwater Horizon disaster still fresh in mind, scientists now described a new dispersant made from edible ingredients that both breaks up oil slicks and keeps oil from sticking to the feathers of birds.

"Each of the ingredients in our dispersant is used in common food products like peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream," said Lisa K. Kemp, Ph.D. She reported on the dispersant at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, being held in Philadelphia the week of August 19.

"Other scientists are working on new oil dispersants and absorbents, but nothing that's quite like ours. It not only breaks up oil but prevents the deposition of oil on birds and other objects, like the ingredients in laundry detergent keep grease from redepositing on clothing in the rinse cycle. Birds can sit in slicks of the dispersed oil, they can dive through it and take off and flap their wings, and the oil will fall off."

Kemp's colleague, Robert Lochhead, Ph.D., developed the concept for the new dispersant, and the research team now has moved the material from concept to a prototype dispersant suitable for testing on actual oil spills. The team, which also includes Drs. Sarah Morgan, Dan Savin and Les Goff, is at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Lochhead said the new dispersant is based on scientific principles established decades ago during the development of modern laundry detergents. One ingredient, for instance, is a special polymer that sticks to the surface of oil droplets to keep them from sticking to the feathers of sea birds. Similar polymers in laundry detergents keep oil and grease removed during the wash cycle from getting back on clothing during the rinse cycle.

That feature in the new dispersant would be critical for minimizing damage to wildlife and beaches, Kemp noted. When detergents are used to remove oil that has coated fur or feathers, it defeats their natural waterproofing effect, leaving birds less buoyant and more susceptible to hypothermia. Birds can also eat the oil as they try to clean themselves, causing internal damage. By some estimates, almost 225,000 birds died in this way after being covered in oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska.

Another important advantage, Kemp noted, is the ease of quickly obtaining large amounts of ingredients, even ton quantities, for making the dispersant at reasonable cost. She envisioned agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard keeping small amounts on hand for first response, with larger quantities being quickly made as necessary.

With funding from the National Science Foundation (IIP-1127846), Kemp helped the group move from the prototype they had developed in the lab to a version that would be ready to be tested and approved for use with future oil spills. The group used a robotic device to quickly screen thousands of possible combinations until they settled on a winning formula. The team had support from large chemical manufacturers, including The Dow Chemical Company, Archer Daniels Midland Company and Croda International for ingredient selection and supply. In order to move to commercialization of this technology, it will now be necessary to seek partners and end-use customers with interest in testing the product.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "New oil spill dispersant made from ingredients in peanut butter, chocolate, ice cream." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820114039.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2012, August 20). New oil spill dispersant made from ingredients in peanut butter, chocolate, ice cream. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820114039.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "New oil spill dispersant made from ingredients in peanut butter, chocolate, ice cream." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820114039.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins